Growth Hacking Isn't Just For Startups

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking has been taking shape as a strategic mindset and methodology to help startups and early stage companies to achieve momentum with lower investment tactics by leveraging non-traditional and innovative methods of gaining brand visibility to drive momentum in customer growth.  

A growth hacker is singularly focused on growth.  Every decision, strategy and tactic is created to achieve this singular goal. Obviously, traditional marketers care about growth too, but not necessarily as pure in their focus. Marketers think in traditional marketing channels.  Growth hackers look into technology, product and other non-traditional channels/vehicles to create a growth advantage. 

Growth Hacking isn’t just for Startups

Up to this point, growth hacking has been traditionally designated as a concept for startups. However, we believe that larger and more mature companies can greatly benefit by including growth hacking concepts into their marketing mix.  Small companies generally use Growth Hacking due to lack of resources.  Imagine what larger companies can do with growth hacking concepts when you do you have resources.

Categories of Growth Hacking

When we think about approaches to Growth Hacking, we typically think of them in the following categories.  Its good practice to create a set of tactics that leverage each category. 


This is where Growth Hackers figure out ways to get visitors to your site.  You give them a reason to visit you by enticing, incentivizing and drawing them to you.  An example of this is offering a whitepaper or guidebook, where visitors find via search and visit your site to gain access to valuable insights.


Instead of incentivizing people as in a Pull concept, you push visitors to you. You go out and find where your target audiences are online and you push them towards your product.  These may include paid channels where you actively get in front of them where you would not naturally have presence.


The third way that traffic can end up on your website or product is by leveraging tactics that use the product to incentive customers to reach into their networks.  

Examples of Growth Hacking Tactics

Referrals programs

Dropbox used a referral strategy where they created a program where customers were incentive to refer a friend for not only more bonus storage space for themselves but also to any friend who accepted an account.

Give back

Instead of emails that market to your customers/prospects.  Give something away such as a online video training series or a whitepaper/guidebook.  The benefit is they will look forward to your communications enhancing the performance of your future communications.  Additionally, your audience may share what you have given them to create free impressions of the brand. 

Have your community be part of the solution

Allow your prospects and customers give ideas on product features or feedback.  This concept creates ownership and loyalty within your customer and prospect base. 

Create an experience they have to share

People love to share the great experiences or hidden deals.  It’s part of our psychology to want to be the first to “boast” about something amazing that they found.  

Costco has never employed major advertising or marketing except with their weekly deals newsletter to customers.  They built their business based upon word of mouth – where customers would talk about that latest “great deal” they got from Costco that they couldn’t believe.

Loyalty programs

Reward customers and entice prospects with offerings that reward their loyalty.  

Create sense of urgency

Countdown for excellent deals to create a sense of not wanting to miss out on a great deal. 

Perception of Exclusivity

Professional social network Quibb rejected over 50 percent of the applications they receive.  Another company, Ellois followed Quibb’s approach by only allowing people who received invites to sign up on the ad-free social networking site.  The most famous example of this method was when Google's Gmail launched.  Google also employed the invite-only strategy when it was launched to drive interest and exclusivity which in turn leveraged human psychology to drive demand.

Content Marketing

Create content by matching content topics to your audiences’ persona/empathy mapping. This content when placed in owned and earned destinations create excellent SEO benefits.  Some assets that have been found to be impactful include videos, whitepapers, blog articles, guest posting and infographics.  

How do I do it for my company?

Make sure you plan your growth hacking programs as you would a traditional marketing program.  This creates focus and more importantly you will be able to learn valuable insights from your target audiences that will allow you to improve your future marketing efforts.

Define actionable goal(s) and objectives

It’s important to be specific in the definition of the actions/goals you want your campaigns to achieve. Ultimately, you do want to achieve growth but its proven that focusing efforts into smaller focused chunks of a larger effort will drive greater success.

Set up analytics to measure and learn

The most effective means of setting up informative analytics is by defining what you intend to learn and measure up front before setting up your analytics.  Too often, people set up analytics and later realize that they aren’t capturing important insights that could have been captured with pre-planning. Typically, you cannot go back and capture that data after the fact.  Also, take the time to closely examine the data and look for tangential insights that may lead to interesting outputs that you didn’t originally intent.  

Experiment…Many times you learn more from failed experiments

It is important to remember to stay the course.  Many Growth Hacking techniques take time to gain traction or don’t live up to the hypothesis.  Stay patient and continue to test different methods.  Don’t be discouraged or lose your commitment to finding the one that creates traction.


Experiments are meant to be tinkered with and optimized.  You don’t just move on if it doesn’t work but you make adjustments and try new adjustments based upon different hypotheses and insights from analytics.  Create a control group to measure experiments against.  Establish A/B tests to find variations that perform better.  


As I have mentioned before, not all Growth Hacking ideas work and more often than not it takes trying a few different methods, adjustments and experiments to find ones that gain velocity and success. 


Growth Hacking concepts should be used by not only startups but also larger organizations as a way to potentially find an advantage.  For startups, their marketing efforts may be heavily focused on Growth Hacking solutions, where established brands should add them to their normal marketing mix to find hidden gems that may produce unexpectedly powerful returns in ROI.  

We hope this article leads you and your team to consider exploring Growth Hacking into your marketing mindset.  Whether you are a small or large company, and if you are interested in learning more about how Growth Hacking can help your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be delighted to assess if Growth Hacking is a good fit for your needs.     


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